Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India], June 14 (ANI): Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking immediate directions to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to cancel the bid process for extraction of hydrocarbon in Vadatheru Block of the Cauvery Basin in Pudukkottai district.
In the letter, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister urged the Prime Minister to instruct the Ministry to consult the State government "ab initio" before bringing any area in Tamil Nadu for any auctions in the future for hydrocarbon exploration and extraction.
The letter comes ahead of Stalin's meeting with Prime Minister Modi slated to take place this week, wherein the former will request the Centre for more COVID vaccines.
Mentioning that Cauvery Basin is the bedrock of the state's food security and agro-based economy, and the "ecologically fragile zone" supports the livelihood of millions of farmers and farm-workers, Stalin said: "In this context, projects to extract hydrocarbons from the Cauvery basin have faced unanimous strident opposition from all stakeholders. The government of Tamil Nadu has consistently opposed hydrocarbon exploration and extraction projects in the Cauvery basin and neighboring districts, given the pivotal role played by the region in the agrarian economy."
He further pointed that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has invited bids for the development of oil and gas fields at Vadatheru in the Cauvery basin on June 10 and said that "the identified area for auction falls in the Cauvery basin and also in the Protected Agricultural Zone declared by the State Government, under the Tamil Nadu Protected Agricultural Zone Development Act, 2020. This legislation prohibits any new exploration, drilling, and extraction of Oil and Natural Gas and other similar hydrocarbons from the Protected Agricultural Zone."
Stalin called it "unfortunate that the sentiments of the people, the probable ecological impact and the legal enactments" by the Tamil Nadu government were not taken into account by the relevant authorities.
"The calling of bids by the Government of India has already ignited public agitation in Pudukkottai and neighboring districts apprehending the adverse consequences of hydrocarbon extraction in this agrarian region," Stalin said.
The Tamil Nadu government is of the firm view that no new hydrocarbon projects should be taken up in the Cauvery basin and neighboring districts in the interest of protecting the livelihoods of the farmers and fragile agro-ecology of the Cauvery basin, read the letter.
"Moreover, any such proposal for new extraction in the Protected Agricultural Zone is in violation of the Tamil Nadu Protected Agricultural Zone Development Act, 2020," it added. (ANI)